After the success of the very important, influential, ground-breaking, and not at all made up study into how many hands does it take to change a nappy, we are now analysing the daily task of the school run. Exactly how many eyes a parent is required to have for this task of getting the children to school safely, unharmed, and on-time.
For the purposes of this study we are looking at a 7 minute walk (excluding stops to pick up random sticks, stroke dogs and read sign posts) from home (a) to school (b). The journey consists of two road crossings and very uneven pavements. This study only takes into account the journey from a to b, and not the monumental task of getting ready to leave the actual house.
The day this study was conducted was dry, but cloudy. Rain looked highly likely and temperature was a lot warmer than it looked, so probably no need for all those layers the small people have been wrestled into.
The School Child (Participant 1)
For the purposes of this experiment the school child was aged 5 years and three-quarters. He is proficient in walking, running, skipping and jumping. All with added sound effects of his choosing. Has a good awareness of the highway code and complete disregard for the importance of looking where he is going. He is likely to ask, on average, 29 questions on the 7 minute journey.
The Hanger-on (Participant 2)
Essentially Participant 2 has only come along for the ride. Participant 2 is aged 1 and-a-half years, and has a tendency to get very over excited upon seeing buses. For the purposes of this study Participant 2 will be restrained in a pushchair.
The Parent (Owner of the eyes being assessed for this study)
The parent in this experiment has been doing the school run for one year, and prior to that has two years of experience in the pre-school run. Her most commonly spoken words on the school run are “slow down” “hurry up” and “look where you’re going”. The parent has refused to disclose her age, as at this point in time she can’t actually remember. The parent rated her stress levels that morning as an 8 1/2 out of 10, which translates to a ‘good’ morning. She had received 6.5 hours of sleep with two interruptions (a lost teddy – Participant 1, and a midnight wee – herself).
In the interest of full disclosure the eyes of the subject being studied are blue. They require glasses for VDU work and driving. They are always accompanied by dark circles.
The equipment deemed essential for the school run consists of:
- P.E Kit
- Change Bag
- 2 Lego Figures
- 3 Raincoats (the wearing of which has been heavily disputed)
How Many Eyes do You Need For The School Run?
Please note that for the purpose of this study the eyes we are referring to are indeed a pair, as it is virtually impossible to look left with one eye and right with the other.
Look left and right and assess when it is safe to cross the road
Insure Participant 1 has his hand on the buggy whilst crossing the road
Watch Participant 2‘s shoes which he is currently trying to remove
Constantly scan the floor for dog crap
Watch out for oncoming pedestrians and simultaneously ensure Participant 1 does not walk into the pedestrians whilst he is asking another question and looking up at the sky.
Check pedestrians following behind for proximity to the book-bag that Participant 1 is swinging around his head
Assess the dark clouds above and decide whether it is time to get the rain cover out for the pushchair
Find the Lego figure’s head that Participant 1 has dropped on the floor
Find the shoes that Participant 2 has successfully removed whilst the subject was looking for the Lego figure’s head
Assess the stick Participant 1 has stopped to examine is in fact a stick and not a dried cat turd
Monitor Participant 2 who is now trying to remove his socks
Measure the speed of the oncoming kid on the scooter and determine whether they are going to dodge right or left, and steer Participant 1 and Participant 2 in the opposite direction
Look out for lamp-posts and other hazards that Participant 1 is likely to walk into
Remain on constant vigil for passengers of parked cars opening their doors and taking out Participant 1
Pick up the socks that Participant 2 has successfully removed and thrown from the buggy
Remain on constant alert for muddy puddles and Participant 1’s proximity to them. If Participant 1 ventures too close stern threats will be issued that will not be followed through, all the while cursing a certain pig in a red dress.
Spot the errant toddler that has escaped and hand them back to their out-of-breath and grateful parent
Assess proximity of pushchair to Participant 1 so as to avoid collisions when Participant 1 does a sudden and needless emergency stop
Give the old lady that is looking at Participant 2’s bare toes and showing a ‘concerned’ expression a hard stare that you hope conveys the message, “Don’t you dare comment on my baby’s feet being cold, or I will be forced to smile and laugh and explain that he always takes them off, when in fact I owe you no explanation at all, and really want to tell you to mind your own business, and shove his socks in your mouth, but I am far too polite to do that”
Be available to look at the dog / house / leaf / sign / friend that Participant 1 is insisting be looked at, even though the same dog / house / leaf / sign / friend is seen on every school run
Roll disdainfully at the people parked on the zig-zag yellow lines outside the school
So there we have the answer; How Many Eyes do You Need For The School Run?
This number can dramatically increase with other factors, such as both participants walking, and therefore stopping several hundred times. When one child goes one way and one the other you will indeed require the illusive eyes in the back of your head. Pavement hazards also significantly increase on any given bin day.
In conclusion, parents distinct lack of visual receptors mean the school run is a daily struggle where stress levels run high and extreme adversity is overcome. It also gives us an insight into why it is impossible for a parent to maintain eye contact with you during a conversation. They simply don’t have enough pairs of eyes.
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